Every year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my church hosts what we call our Share Service. Instead of having a service at 9am & 11am, we all come together to worship at 10am and have the opportunity to get up in front of one another and share how God has moved in our lives, and how Refuge has been a part of that movement. It’s like the church version of Open Mic. ‘Cept the comedy comes from the kids that say the most honest, raw things and there’s no cover charge for getting in or 2 drink minimum. Although we do have coffee and drinking it is encouraged.
This year’s Share Service may have been my most favorite one yet.
I’ve been attending my church for 8 years and – to my recollection – I have yet to sit through more vulnerability from so many different people. I witnessed people share laughter, tears, heartbreak, and praise – all pointing to the Faithful One who carries and sustains us all.
After church, I went to lunch with some friends and said to them, “I feel like for so long, so many people have been longing for community in our church. They want it but haven’t been able to figure out where to start – or maybe not even sure if anyone else around the church wants it as much as they do. This morning, so many people shared that they not only want community, but have found it.”
My heart grew so many sizes as one person after another walked to the front – shaky voices, sweaty palms and all – sharing that they experienced God showing up for them through the lives of the people around them. I mean, could you ask for anything more?!
Maybe my most favorite thing said, that brought me to tears in an instant, was one person’s heartfelt closing: “Thank you for letting us be known here.”
I mean. Come. On.
That is one of the many reasons why I love my church.
I didn’t have the brain space to get up and share in front of my church. Also because sometimes when I have a microphone I can get a little too…shall we say…expository…
But if I had gotten up to share, here’s what I would’ve said:
• I am grateful that God has chosen to name me His Beloved through His Son, Jesus.
• I am grateful that God has placed me in the church He has, to see His people bear His name and pursue Jesus in such a way that the darkness has no place among us.
• I am grateful for a church that listens to the voice of women, allows women to lead, has men that stand in front of women to protect them yet also stand behind women to push them toward who Jesus has made them to be.
• I am grateful for friends – both in and out of my church – that call me to grace and mercy and are not willing to let me push Jesus away, but rather push me closer to Him.
• I am grateful that God has given me deep, rich, life-giving relationships that fill the desires of my heart in the most unique ways – ways I would have never imagined, yet are perfect for who I am and where I am in my life right now.
• I am grateful for a faithful God that never gives up on an often faithless Bride.
• I am also grateful for friends that don’t let me continue living life in the dark by giving me their favorite books to read and forcing me to watch their favorite movies. Most of which I am rightfully ashamed of myself for never having read/seen to begin with.
I could go on and on, but this feels like it hits the high notes.
The whole point is – I have much to share and much to be grateful for. At the tail end of a predominately difficult year, it was so good for my heart to hear the stories of people I’m in a church family with, and in turn be reminded of my God who is, and has been, so kind and faithful to me.